Alan Gruber (Duchy of Tradgardland blog) and I have been independently reading the old scouting book Wide Games (1933) with ideas of how these outdoor games might translate into tabletop and garden games with figures.
As with any set of gaming rules, the basics have to be set out – Movement, Melee, Missile Firing, Morale, that sort of thing.
Victory Conditions – A lot of this scenario stuff is set out for us in the detailed briefings in Wide Games.
A patrol is made up of 8 scouts including patrol leader and bugler.
A Scout at one early point could be a boy or girl. In the early days (1907-1910) Girl Scouts would have undertaken these Wide Games, possibly even alongside or against Boy Scout Patrols. Girl Guiding from 1910 carried this Wide Games tradition on.
Then there is the challenge of movement.
Depending what ground scale and figure scale that you are working with, you would need to set out a suitable movement rate of X inches, hexes or squares per turn.
Basic Walking Pace in Open Country – X inches or X hexes
Scout’s Pace – Walking Pace x 50%, so X x 0.5 per inches or hexes
Scout’s Pace is a curious hybrid of ‘walk 20 paces, run 20 paces’, designed to sustainably go faster and further without being too puffed to pass on messages.
How Terrain, Weather and Time of Day Affects Movement
Wide Games and Scouting For Boys often notes off-road terrain as Thick Or Open:
Thick Country takes twice as long to traverse. Half the normal walking or scouts Pace of X inches or hexes
Tracks – moves on paths have X inch bonus.
Open Country – normal Walking or Scout’s Pace
Walking On the Road – Normal walking pace or Scout’s Pace.
Bicycle on Road – 2 x Scout’s Pace. Edwardian bicycles probably wouldn’t go off road well.
Uphill – movement reduce by half. Downhill normal pace.
Fog and mist – half normal pace, recuced visibility. Scout’s Pace unavailable in fog and mist.
Night-time – half normal pace, reduced visibility. Scout’s Pace unavailable at night.
Snow and Ice – half normal pace. Scout’s Pace unavailable on snow and ice – Increased risk of accidents.
Bogs and marshland can be deemed uncrossable or at half speed.
All fields of standing crops must be placed out of bounds.
Speed of movement would vary with stealth and cover / ground.
Stalking / Quiet / Concealed Movement Pace – half normal pace. Scout’s Pace unavailable in stalking mode.
If you have the One rate for quiet moving through a wood etc, then the alternative Scout’s Pace for pursuit / rapid noisy movement.
‘Thick country’ is distinguished as taking twice as long to cross from ‘open country’ in terms of movement. Obviously roads would have faster pace / movement.
Resolving Capture and Combat
It takes two scouts to capture another enemy scout and take him or her blindfold captive back to their base.
‘Vikings’ (Wide Game 1, a Flag Raid scenario) mentions that the aim should be success “by strategy rather than force, so not more than two go together at one time and it is regarded as shameful for more than two to attack one man.”
One scout however can take the wool ‘life’ of an enemy scout, effectively removing them from the game. The scout who loses a wool life can take no active part until he or she has returned by the most immediate route back to the (neutral) Ambulance base, where a new life is restored. A scout who has lost a wool ‘life’ can be indicated by a curtain ring or other token.
How this affects points is mentioned at the end.
In the Scouting for Boys examples of Wide Games, the Snow Fort scenario sees Snowballs being used as ammunition.
Whiting Balls or wooden darts with blunt ends marked in chalk are also recommended. Hits on enemy scouts would be clearly visible to an umpire.
Weapons Range: X inches or hexes / squares, to be decided, further than normal walking pace?
Some of these sections come not from Wide Games but straight from Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars simple rules (appendix to War Games).
One dice thrown for each scout firing – 6 scores a hit.
If the scout firer is undercover whilst the scout target is in the open, then a 5 or 6 will secure a hit.
Featherstone Savings Throws
Each Scout casualty has the chance of only being judged lightly wounded and fighting on. Each Scout casualty has a dice thrown for him, a 4, 5 or 6 means that he is only lightly wounded and carries on. If the scout casualty is under cover, then he or she is saved by 3, 4, 5 or 6.
If scouts come into contact (adjacent squares etc / bases touching) then some form of Melee ensues. Some Hand-to-Hand Fighting does take place in early scouting ranging from Jujitsu, boxing, Cornish or Celtic wrestling and quarter staffs / staves, all permitted.
Scout versus Scout with each man having one dice throw, the highest number wins. The losing Scout who loses a ‘wool life’ must return to base camp / ambulance camp to restore his life.
Quarter Staves / staff fighting can take place using Gerard De Gre duelling rules. Each Scout has so many life or melee points, which reduces with each hit.
An alternative Melee system from Wide Games no. 3 – Staffs – has a hidden numbering system, 1 to 8 being allocated to each patrol and concealed from the enemy (maybe on their base). The number was only revealed when challenged – sometimes finding out that you have challenged a higher number too late, if you are low numbered! This solves the taking of the wool life, based on whether Scout is higher or lower.
Interestingly in Scouting for Boys (1908), BP suggests Patrols have regular numbers: Patrol Leader 1 with whistle, Corporal 2, scouts 3 and 4, scouts 5 and 6, scouts 7 and 8 working in pairs. No mention of the bugler!
As mentioned in Staffs (Wide Games no. 3) a kind of wild card that no 1 (patrol leader) can take number 7, so is both strong and vulnerable.
These could be inscribed on the figure bases of scout models.
Morale and Scouts Honour
“Camp raiding is strictly prohibited” (Rule 340) – against Scout’s Honour. Scout’s Honour could be an interesting alternative scoring system or points system. For example:
Points are deducted from a patrol or Scout for each Scout being captured or losing a “life”.
Points are gained per patrol or Scout for attaining another’s wool life, captive or token object.
Morale (health or energy points) could be boosted by good turn cards or weather. Wet weather, lack of food, cold etc might affect a Scout’s combat effectiveness if using RPG type cards. Still to be worked out …
Chance Cards or Event Cards – still to be worked out.
Commonly used in Wide Games, further change of instructions or note of wounded casualties were issued as letters opened after so many turns, hampering or altering the briefing to each patrol.
These are some initial rules notes ideas … to be tried, discarded, continued and added to.